Voyage to the Sunken City, Hearthstone's next expansion, has recently been announced and arrives on April 12. Even though we still don't have the full picture, we're currently in the middle of the reveal season, and Team 5 has so far spoiled us with quite a few interesting tools. In this article, we'll express our ideas about said mechanics, discussing the new known cards and the implications for the future of the game.
To be thorough, here are all the game mechanics (as seen up to this point) we're going to see in Voyage to the Sunken City:
- New Keyword: Colossal - Minions with the Colossal keyword come with extra appendages that synergize with their main body in powerful ways. These appendages are summoned with the main body, even if the Colossal wasn’t played from hand.
- New Keyword: Dredge - A new keyword that lets you look at the bottom three cards of your deck and pick one to bubble up to the top.
- New Tribe: Naga - A Spell-focused minion type that often gives you bonuses for playing one or more spells while the Naga are in your hand.
- New Theme: Sunken Minions - Uncollectible units with powerful effects that are put at the bottom of your deck.
- New Theme: Piranhas - 1/1 tokens with Rush that get generated by other cards and get stronger with each summon.
Naga - New Minion Tribe
Without considering Quilboar (added to the game just to match Battlegrounds), it's been almost 5 years since the last time Team 5 introduced a brand new minion tribe: it was Journey to Un'Goro's Elementals, and now we're going to receive Nagas!
As you'll see in a bit, Naga is a Spell-focused minion type, that often times synergizes in different ways with spells you cast while holding a unit from that tribe. The spell-minion bond can branch out in several ways, and we are sure Blizzard will go as deep as possible with their design.
Worth noting is that all the Naga units that require you to play a spell while they're in your hand have great synergy with The Coin, which will singlehandedly fullfil their Battlecries' condition while allowing you to play them one turn earlier. For example, coin into Spellcoiler on turn 1 looks like a very solid play, as well as coin into Crushclaw Enforcer on turn 2.
Spellcoiler - Basically a cheaper Ethereal Conjurer with the "If you've cast a spell while holding this" condition that seems to represent what "If you're holding a Dragon" is for Dragons. A cheap value generator unit that grants early board presence (something Mage hasn't had in quite a while) and a possible followup move like Build a Snowman.
Crushclaw Enforcer - How about some card draw? Whether you're looking for some specific units or you just want cycle, Crushclaw Enforcer is what you may be looking for. Simple, yet synergistic card draw for the new Naga tribe, that every class can use. Just like Spellcoiler and many other Nagas, it's going to be a terrible topdeck when your hand is empty, but you can always build your deck so that such a scenario will be less likely to happen.
Blackscale Brute - As of now, this is the only Voyage to the Sunken City Naga that doesn't actively synergize with spells. Blackscale Brute kind of looks to us as a crossover between Forged in the Barrens' Man-at-Arms and Mor'shan Elite. Warrior is losing most of its weapons with the upcoming rotation (with just Whetstone Hatchet, Blacksmithing Hammer and Outrider's Axe guaranteed to remain in Standard next Year), so it's a bit difficult for us to predict how easy it will be to have Brute's Battlecry active on curve, but it has to be said that 10/12 of stats for 7 mana is quite a lot, especially if they have useful keywords like Taunt and Rush.
Hedra the Heretic - Most of Druid's 'Miracle' package is rotating to Wild in a few weeks, but the class still has decent tools to juice up Hedra the Heretic's Battlecry significantly. Lines up perfectly after a turn 5 Wildheart Guff.
Moreover, Voyage to the Sunken City also has Naga-related spells. Opposite to Nagas, these spells gain a bonus effect if you played a Naga while they are in your hand - the tables turn!
Gifts of Azshara - A 2 mana Arcane Intellect if you manage to fulfill the requirement. Being cheap, it pairs up very well with Spellcoiler, meaning that Mage is up for some really interesting shenanigans.
Serpent Wig - A cheap and reusable buff spell that gives us the impression that Priest will be one of the classes (together with Mage and, who knows, Shaman?) which will focus on the Naga tribe. It's no Libram of Wisdom, but with the right support it can be quite amusing.
On a final note, let's talk about some already existing cards possibly receiving the Naga tribal tag, as well as some "flavor" controversies. As of now, we suspect that Zola the Gorgon will be a Naga and will also be part of the next Core Set, but who else could receive a text update?
Finally, people pointed out that Mean Street of Gadgetzan's Naga Corsair is, as the name states, both a Naga and a Pirate, while wondering what may happen to this unit's Tribe tag. Although there's no official position about what we're going to say, we feel like the one which follows may as well be Team 5's philosophy when it comes to addressing situations like this.
Out of all the Tribe tags Constructed Hearthstone has ever had, Pirate is the only one that does not define a species of creatures, but rather their "occupation": you come to life as Beast, Elemental, Demon or Murloc, but Pirate can be defined as a character's lifestyle choice. Therefore, in edge situations where a creature belonging to a certain Tribe decides to embrace the sealife, Team 5 has always given priority to the latter. Patches the Pirate is another clear example that further corroborates our explanation: being a watcher, Patches is born as a Demon, but at the same time it's a Pirate, hence its affiliation to the latter Tribe.
Some more examples can be found with other tribes that haven't made it yet to Hearthstone: Captain Hooktusk is a troll, Captain Greenskin is a goblin and Bootstrap Sunkeneer is an undead, yet they're all tagged as Pirates.
Colossal - New Card Keyword
The first of the two brand new keywords introduced with this expansion. Colossal minions come with extra appendages that synergize with their main body in powerful ways. Said appendages are summoned with the main body, even if the Colossal wasn’t played from hand, and their number varies based on the indication on the card effect: for example, Xhilag of the Abyss has 4 appendages, while Colaque only has one - be sure to have enough space on the board!
We love the fact that Colossal minions and their appendages' belong to the same piece of art - they are so big that they truly don't fit into just a card!
Xhilag of the Abyss's full art: as you can see, the minion and its appendages are part of the same piece of art. A wonderful piece of art.
Before taking a look at some of the already revealed Colossal units, here are some curiosities and gameplay implications about this new keyword:
- Each appendage will share the same minion type of their main body - Demon for Demon, Mech for Mech, Beast for Beast and so on.
- Every class will receive a Colossal minion.
- A Colossal minion's appendages coming to play count as summoning.
- Effects like Khadgar will interact with them.
- If you manage to summon a Colossal minion through RNG effects like Evolve, you'll summon its appendages too.
- Although it has not been confirmed, it makes sense that the same thing will happen if you Recruit a Colossal minion.
- Appendages are different minions than their main body - you can summon them through Resurrection effects separately.
- A Colossal minion doesn't synergize with just its appendages, but even with the ones of other copies of itself.
Every single Colossal minion's appendages will share the same minion type as the main body.
Every class gets one [Colossal minion]?
Does Colossal +X count as summoning so you can double it up with Khadgar?
Could you clarify transform and Colossal interaction? Does transforming into a Colossal minion also summon its parts?
Hey Cora, are the Colossal pieces regular minions? Like if my opponent is playing a Colossal minion and then casts Mass Resurrection or something, could they get back the shells or stalks without the base minion?
Let's start with the fiercest of the Colossal units currently known to us. Xhilag of the Abyss represents an addition to Big Demon Hunter, giving players another spicy target for Sigil of Reckoning and Caria Felsoul. Although its Stalks are fragile, they'll become quite troublesome if left unchecked, since they can also target heroes. We are not sure whether this will remain as the strongest Colossal unit down the road, but it does look really spicy to us!
Looking for ways to counter Xhilag? Gaia, the Techtonic and its drills will make those pesky stalks appear like no more than oversized noodles! Not only does Gaia bring lots of stats on the board, but also a high degree of proactivity: 4/6 worth of Rush split across two bodies, each of which grants you a little board clear every time it lands a blow. What's even more interesting is that Gaia, the Techtonic's buff does not apply to its drills alone, but also to itself and even to other Mechs that may already be in play from previous turns! Imagine if Replicating Menace and SN1P-SN4P were still in Standard...
After countless years, MurLock is finally back! Gigafin represents yet another removal option for Warlock, with the further upsides of bringing a ton of stats on the board (11/11 for 8 mana, 4/7 of which with Taunt: quite difficult to remove if your opponent's side of the board is empty!) and being a Murloc - Bloodscent Vilefin has blatant synergy with this Colossal, with the potential for Gigafin to come in play as soon as turn 5. Moreover, Warlock can easily get rid of a friendly minion for little to no mana, so Gigafin's Butthole won't very likely stay on the board for too long.
On a final note, Hearthstone Associate Game Designer Gallon cleared some confusion around this Colossal's effect. Gigafin's "devour" will trigger enemy minions' Deathrattles.
Does 'devour' triggers Deathrattle? I am curious.
Dredge - New Card Keyword
Dredge is Voyage to the Sunken City's second keyword: this fact alone has happened only once in Hearthstone's entire history, with The Witchwood's Rush and Echo; add the fact that it basically represents Magic: The Gathering's keyword Scry (which allows you to look at the top of your deck and influence it in different ways) and you have a rather interesting option, with lots of potential and synergies to discover.
Gallon took some time to answer a couple of community questions regarding how exactly Dredge works.
- Dredge does not shuffle the deck.
- This keyword looks at the very three bottom cards of your deck - they don't necessarily have to be different.
- There will be cases in which you may find a duplicate!
Does Dredge shuffle the deck?
It does not.
Does it show duplicates?
It shows the bottom 3 cards of your deck, so it could show duplicates.
Here are some early examples on how Dredge is being implemented:
Tuskarrrr Trawler - A simple, yet effective way of showing how Dredge works: basically a Neutral Sightless Watcher with Pirate synergy. If you are playing a Pirate deck, you want your draws to be as good as possible, so that you'll have a strong curve and your chances of winning will raise. Pirate Warrior, a fan favorite, will gladly consider running this minion.
Seafloor Savior - Both Dredge and Handbuff support, as well as being a Mech (even though the latter isn't very relevant as of now): Seafloor Savior rewards you for running minion-heavy decks, with a chance of positioning a crucial card on the top of your deck in case you want to close the game soon.
Bloodscent Vilefin - If Murloc Warlock will be a thing, you can bet your shoes that Bloodscent Vilefin will be one - if not the main reason - for the archetype's success. We know mana cheat is very strong, and Warlock does not lack ways to turn self-damage into an upside. A very good card, as well as a strict improvement over Mean Streets of Gadgetzan's Seadevil Stinger.
Sunken Minions - New Card Theme
"Sunken" minions are a card theme exclusive to Voyage to the Sunken City: they are uncollectible units with above average effects that are placed at the bottom of your deck, meaning that they synergize really well with the new Dredge mechanic.
Up until recently, we only knew one Sunken minion - Sunken Sweeper - which was revealed alongside the expansion announcement a few days ago. Fortunately for us, we've received the second one just a few hours ago - Azsharan Defector and its Card ID Not Found.
Azsharan Defector - Deathrattle synergy for Death Speaker Blackthorn and Demon Hunter. While the main body is not bad, but not great either, Card ID Not Found is a Reckless Rocketeer for 2 less mana and with a Dragonbane-like effect on top of it (although it cannot hit face). Illidan has plenty of card draw, but is yet to receive any class Dredge support: we'll probably need to see a couple more cards to evaluate this unit, but it has to be said that Charge is a very scary keyword, especially on a non-Legendary unit!
Azsharan Sweeper - At this point it's clear that Mech Mage will be a thing once the new expansion goes live, and Azsharan Sweeper provides some good additional resources. Seems kind of a slow value generator, so we'll have to see if we'll receive other reasons to build our deck with this card in mind, but for now it contributes towards forming a solid basis for the archetype's success.
Piranhas - New Card Theme
Recently, Piranha Poacher was one of the cards showcased in the "Arena card reveal" held by Redbeard, Dreads, and Judge. However, the fact that there are 5 different colors of Piranhas (although with the same name, stats and effect) kind of made some players question themselves, as they could not understand such a variety for an uncollectible token generated by another unit.
They generate off of a few cards in the different colors at random. They're all functionally the same, so it's just a little fun touch. :)
As for the unit itself, we know that little fish are usually stronger when in school formation (Pokemon fans out there, raise your hand), so we really like how they implemented this concept into a card mechanic.
We are sure that some players out there will go for crazy OTKs with insane Piranha Swarmer burst (Tundra Rhino?), but we definitely need to wait a little while longer before drawing final conclusions, to learn what else Team 5 has in store for us.
What are your early impressions of the new Voyage to the Sunken City mechanics? What cards do you like the most so far? Let us know in the comments below!